Cheltenham Festival: 10 Paul Nicholls Grade 1 runners for 2021

Paul Nicholls has plenty of strong challengers at this year's Cheltenham Festival.

Frodon Politologue Paul Nicholls

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Paul Nicholls is an expert at masterminding big Cheltenham victories, having claimed a Champion Hurdle, three Ryanair Chases, four Stayers’ Hurdles, six Champion Chases and four Gold Cups among his 45 festival winners at Prestbury Park.

The 11-time champion trainer is planning another successful assault on the 2021 meeting and has a formidable squad of runners heading to the Gloucestershire track.

Headlined by Gold Cup contender Frodon and champion chaser Politologue, Nicholls’ string also includes a number of Grade 1 hopefuls seeking to bring silverware back to Ditcheat so Paddy Power News have taken a closer look.

Remember, we’re offering non-runner money back on every single race at Cheltenham 2021 so you don’t lose out if your selection withdraws.

Eglantine Du Seuil – Mares’ Hurdle

EGLANTINE DU SEUIL beat Concertista by a short head in the 2019 Mares’ Novice Hurdle, while still being trained by Willie Mullins, but has struggled to really kick on in the two seasons since.

She is yet to bank her first victory for Nicholls, although second behind The White Mouse in the Close Brothers Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham in December is something to cling on to ahead of the Mares’ Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls: “Eglantine Du Seuil is in the Mares’ Hurdle and she’s also in the Coral Cup, which is probably a race which might be a little more suitable for her. She was a bit disappointing the last time she ran, and it’s just been hard to get her right.

“She’s run a good couple of good solid races and I think she wants good ground to get the best out of her. If it was soft I’d be thinking again about running her, so she’s one we’ve got to make a decision on next week. If we did run, I’d say it’s more likely to be in the Coral Cup.”

Bravemansgame – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Nicholls suggested BRAVEMANSGAME is as good as the legendary Denman was at this stage of his career following his win in the Challow Novices’ Hurdle last time out.

That victory makes it three from four over flights this season and stands the six-year-old in good stead for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls: “Each run he’s got better and better and that culminated in him winning the Challow Hurdle at Christmas. He was really strong at the back of the last and stayed on strong, so this is the obvious race for him.

“He’s definitely improving physically all the time. I think the best will come from when he jumps a fence in the future, but he’s going into the race with a leading chance I feel.”

Bravemansgame Harry Cobden Newbury December 29, 2020

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Next Destination – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

NEXT DESTINATION has been workmanlike as opposed to spectacular since joining Nicholls at the start of this season, coming off the back of a two-and-a-half year break.

He was well-beaten by Roksana over hurdles at Wetherby on his reappearance before going chasing, pipping One For The Team and Fiddlerontheroof in successive wins as preparation for the Festival Novices’ Chase.

Paul Nicholls: “He’s got bundles of stamina and the softer the ground the better for him. He’s a very smart horse, and obviously Willie’s Monkfish is going to be very hard to beat on all known form, but you never worry about one or two in novice races at Cheltenham – a lot can happen and you’ve got to jump well.

“He’s got it all to do, but he’s in there with a right chance, especially if the ground is soft.”

Politologue – Queen Mother Champion Chase

POLITOLOGUE is back to defend his title in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and started the current season well by picking up his second Tingle Creek at Sandown.

However, defeat to First Flow in the Clarence House plus the red-hot performances of Chacun Pour Soi this term mean the lovable grey has it all to do at Cheltenham.

Paul Nicholls: “Politologue winning last year was fantastic for him and for everybody connected with the horse, and this year is his sixth Festival which is amazing. He comes good at this time of year and he’s in there with a chance.

“I think it was a good run (in the Clarence House at Ascot). The ground was probably testing enough for him that day, he’s slightly better on spring ground and it might be that Cheltenham just suits him very well. He’s a horse who gives his all, there were no excuses and he was beaten by a better horse on the day. He still ran to a very high level, which he will do in this race, and you know he’s solid, he’ll go a nice gallop and will give you a nice run for your money.”

Politologue Harry Skelton Queen Mother Champion Chase Cheltenham March 11, 2020

Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips ahead of Cheltenham 2021

Greaneteen – Queen Mother Champion Chase

GREANETEEN was only fourth in the Grand Annual at last year’s Festival but started the season well with victory over Moonlighter at Exeter before coming home a doughty second behind Politologue in the Tingle Creek.

He then had a 78-day spell off the track but reappeared in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury, coming home third behind Sceau Royal and Champ.

Paul Nicholls: “Greaneteen is going to run in the Champion Chase as well. He ran a bit free in the Game Spirit at Newbury and carried a penalty, but was just a bit free and a bit fresh.

“He’s a horse that if they go fast around there could run into a place. I’m not expecting him to win but he deserves to take his place.”

Hitman – Marsh Novices’ Chase

Nicholls has had HITMAN at his stable since February 2020 but has only seen the five-year-old run three times thanks to wind surgery and a separate 63-day break at the start of this year.

He absolutely bolted up on his debut for the yard at Ffos Las last November and was second behind Allmankind at Sandown but fell on his last appearance in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase and could swerve the Marsh Novices’ Chase and Cheltenham entirely.

Paul Nicholls: ““Hitman is an interesting one. I wanted to run him at Kempton in February but couldn’t because of the ground. He’s also entered at Newbury this weekend and again the ground is an issue. In the back of my mind is the fact that in a perfect world I’d probably run him at the weekend and then go to Aintree for the 2.5m novices’ chase there, but if I miss this weekend for whatever reason, I could be tempted to have a look at this.

“I think it could cut up a bit with Envoi Allen and people might dodge him – so Hitman is still a possible in my mind, depending on whether we go on Saturday or not.”

Hitman Harry Cobden Sandown December 5, 2020

Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips ahead of Cheltenham 2021

Real Steel – Ryanair Chase

REAL STEEL was sixth in last year’s Gold Cup, coming home just over seven lengths behind Al Boum Photo after failing to stay up the Cheltenham hill.

The eight-year-old has failed to shine since switching from Willie Mullins, pulling up in the King George after finishing third out of four in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase, but Nicholls is confident he is on the up and could be a contender in the Ryanair Chase.

Paul Nicholls: “Those horses who have come from Willie Mullins have been hard to get used to our routine. Obviously what they do is completely different to what we do and it’s taken some of them a little while to settle into our routine, but they’re getting there now and Real Steel definitely looked the best he has done (in training last week). I was very pleased with him – so hopefully he’ll put up a good show.

“He ran well in the Gold Cup last year and with better ground on the right trip, he could run well.”

Barbados Buck’s – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

BARBADOS BUCK’S has run into some form this season with three consecutive victories and is now a contender for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

However, the six-year-old will be up against a number of high-class hurdlers in what looks to be one of the most open Grade 1 races at the Festival.

Paul Nicholls: “Barbados Buck’s has been really progressive this season. He is rated 143 now and his form keeps getting better. He has won his last three. The last day at Kempton he carried a 10lb penalty and he was strong from the back of the last and he won nicely.

“He is a proper staying horse and you need something here that will stay forever and he would be right in that.”

Barbados Buck's Harry Cobden Kempton January 9, 2021

Albert Bartlett latest odds and tips ahead of Cheltenham 2021

Threeunderthrufive – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Like Barbados Buck’s, THREEUNDERTHRUFIVE is also being targeted at the Albert Bartlett but is less heavily-fancied despite three wins from three over hurdles.

The six-year-old secured comfortable victories at Lingfield and Ludlow last year before a gutsy win over Fantastikas at Musselburgh last month.

Paul Nicholls: “He is unbeaten over hurdles but you wouldn’t know what is in the locker with him as he only just does enough.

“He goes along with his ears pricked, jumps well and he will definitely get every bit of the trip and is another with a nice chance. This is a nice horse.”

Frodon – Gold Cup

One of the most popular horses set to run at this year’s Festival, FRODON adores competing at Cheltenham and has six victories at Prestbury Park already in his career.

His King George win at Kempton on Boxing Day has set him up nicely for an unlikely tilt at the biggest prize of all, and he is sure to be well-backed as punters dream of a fairytale win for the nine-year-old.

Paul Nicholls: “No one expected Frodon to win a King George, but he keeps surprising people. He was always a decent horse but I never envisaged him being quite to this level. He just took a while to mature, that was the thing. When he got to full maturity he kept on improving. He has come a long way. He has surprised me to be honest with you.

“They (Bryony Frost and Frodon) are a match made in heaven and they do get on particularly well. She and Frodon have gone a long way and there is definitely a rapport between them. You wouldn’t want her not being on him. She knows him well. It’s the biggest race he will ever run in his life and he deserves to be there.”

Frodon Bryony Frost Cheltenham October 24, 2020

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CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.40 – Mares’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips

March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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